by Visit Ventura
For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.
The reading of a fine book is an uninterrupted dialogue in which the book speaks and our soul replies.
Books have supplied priceless pages to humanity’s pageant. Reading provokes so many feelings, gives rise to so many thoughts. Books also inspire and, in these times, well, we can all use a dose of inspiration. And so we asked the folks at three of our favorite Ventura bookstores for the books they’d recommend to inspire us and give us hope.
Perhaps, at this strange juncture in humanity’s pageant, a soul-stirring book is more important than ever.
“Reading is especially important now when our time and attention are being tugged at from every angle,” says Megan Murai, co-owner of Timbre Books. “Reading allows us to take pause and examine our world through the lens of another’s world, which can arguably be even more illuminating than if we were to try to understand our present on our own. Reading allows us to create connections across time and among people, and unity and empathy are a necessary balm in our tired and hurting world. Reading opens our minds to new and different possibilities while allowing us to revel in the very human experiences of struggle, loss, beauty, mystery and love.”
“We read for so many reasons,” says Clarey Rudd, owner of Bank of Books and Abednego Book Shoppe. “Reading gives us hope; we see how others have lived through difficult challenges. Reading helps us escape and relax, to travel to other places. It helps us gain knowledge. Reading helps us discover history; in learning from the past we might learn how not to destroy ourself with ignorance. Reading helps us gain empathy, by learning about other peoples and cultures different from our own.”
Grand promises, yes, but in the hands of a great book, promises kept.
So here you go. And thank you Clarey, and the incomparably knowledgeable staff at Bank of Books and Abednego Book Shoppe. And thank you, eloquent Megan.
And, most important, thank you Ventura readers. Perhaps from one (or many) of these books, you will draw inspiration and strength — and use them to accomplish things you were capable of already.
Books are mirrors: You only see in them what you already have inside you.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
From Megan Murai
Co-owner Timbre Books
Tinkers by Paul Harding.
A multigenerational saga that is a meditation on the meaning of a life lived and the implications and dynamic qualities of legacy.
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.
The first book in an intergalactic science fiction trilogy that lead me to believe in the indefinite possibilities of art.
Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard.
A somber and profound examination of the harsh realities of humanity, the beauty of the natural world and the possibility of so much more than the human eye can see.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
There is nothing quite like stubborn innocence and the pursuit of truth to make me believe there is hope for an antiracist world.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.
A beautiful story about the intersecting lives of a ragtag cast of characters that is inspiring in the way it illuminates beauty alongside brokenness.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
A heartbreaking and intricate portrait of the lives of vastly different people connected by a single event. A reminder that sometimes “there is more beauty than this world can bear.”
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
A time-tested tale of redemption!
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok.
A coming of age story that weighs the cost of pursuing art and the importance of bringing art into the world.
Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin (from his short story collection Going to Meet the Man).
My favorite short story of all time that inspires readers to continue to fight for what is good in the midst of evil and suffering.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
How can we not be inspired to overturn evil and believe in magic when reading these books?!
From Clarey Rudd and the staff
Bank of Books and Abednego Book Shoppe.
Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager
On October 14, 1947, Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager piloted a bullet-shaped, rocket-propelled aircraft through the sound barrier. That and dozens of other astonishing accomplishments. Not bad for a boy from the tiny town of Hamlin, West Virginia.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
For the first 50 years of her life, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to Corrie ten Boom. But with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, everything changes.
The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren
There’s a reason this non-fiction book sold millions of copies. Pastor Rick Warren lays out a spiritual journey roadmap that could change your life.
Jehovah-Jireh is His Name by Leonard DeWitt.
A man is sent from God to activate, in a variety of ministries, the plan and will of God. But away from the pulpit this man and his family face major problems and frightening needs.
Day Hikes Around Ventura County: 123 Great Hikes by Robert Stone.
Because Nature can be one of our greatest inspirations — and there’s no nature like home.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Elizabeth Gilbert inspires you to be brave, free, and curious. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, the author of Eat, Pray, Love offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration.
The Life Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth.
What happens when you return to the real world after being in a fantastical one like Narnia? This Young Adult novel walks the line between where fantasy and reality meet, exploring loss and healing, and what it means to find where you belong.
This one requires no explanation.
And last but not least — because we are all in this together — do you have your own favorite inspirational book? We would love to hear from you. And be inspired